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The unwashed general public & the book of Thoth

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The unwashed general public & the book of Thoth


One of the frustrating things I find as a member of the unwashed general public reading the book of Thoth is Al's constant references to secrets & knowledge that are beyond our ken.

Some examples are:

Pg 76: 'with regard to the Pelican, it's full symbolism is only available to initiates of the fifth degree of the O.T.O.'

Pg 59: 'This is a doctrine only appreciable in its fullness by members of the sovereign sanctuary of the gnosis of the ninth degree of O.T.O'

Pg 102:'it is impossible to explain these terms to any but advanced students of alchemy.'

Pg 103: 'there is a particular interpretation of this card which is only to be understood by initiates of the ninth degree of the O.T.O for it contains a practical magical formula of such importance as to make it impossible to communicate it openly.'

I was wandering what other people made of the comments like these in the book of Thoth and if people feel we can understood the same things he mentions from other ways?
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We probably do already know these things. We just don't know we know them, because people who know don't know we know them without asking us. I bet a lot of people join secret societies and when they get told the supposedly secret stuff think 'well duh, that was obvious'.
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I just thought, "Oh, more of his sex magick stuff again" and didn't think any more about it. Tantra yoga might give you the same kind of insights. Waite did much the same thing throughout the PKT.
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There are any number of reasons why uncle Al would say things like that so I'll refrain from commenting on that aspect.

A lot of what was secret back then isn't secret anymore. You probably can discover some of it by going exploring, but AC's right about one thing, you might not fully-appreciate what you discover unless and until you have some of the knowledge that goes beforehand. Each layer builds on the previous one.

For now though I'd just ignore it and focus on what you can understand. There's plenty of that to keep you busy for awhile. Let the rest come with time.
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Very good question, but with no simple answer.

When dealing with all things occult one can say there are two types of "secrets." One of them is simply not relaying information. Book T, for example, used to be a secret book not available to the general public. It contains the complete Golden Dawn "key" to the Tarot. Until Crowley himself published it, that is. Many other things including specific secret rituals are today not secret at all and can be found quite easily in available literature. But very often simple intellectual information won't help you.

Another type of secret occultists deal with is the type that deals with experience and initiation and those are the ones that are far more difficult to communicate. If someone has not gone through the process and training they simply don't have the tools to deal with the ideas as an initiate would. Even if one knows the rituals they don't give the whole picture.

For example, the thing with the pelican. One can know the general theme of self sacrifice that the symbol conveys, but actually understanding it, assimilating it and experiencing it is quite another thing. One can take comfort in the fact that the grades Crowley refers to are so high that it is not only the "unwashed masses" who cannot completely appreciate the symbolism, but also most members of the orders themselves.

Another "sub category" of secrets are those that, with all fairness towards the masses of whom I myself am a proudly unwashed member, they just cannot accept certain things without problems. Sex magick is a part of it, and Crowley often hints at certain acts that would just give the OTO and other such orders an even worse name than they already have. But again, simply knowing that such and such a sexual act is part of attaining such and such a grade is meaningless without the proper training and experience. I can guess that the pelican deals with sex in some way and given time I can probably find some sources to support this, but it won't confer upon me any grade.

So basically we are all looking over the wall at a party we weren't invited to and we do the best we can. Crowley himself saw worth in this, admitting that it was not everyone's Will to devote themselves to the Great Work, but he wanted to give whoever wanted them the tools with which to start.

On a practical note, what I actually can recommend is to read, even if you don't do anything with it, some books about magick. Merely knowing basic terms and rules will greatly aid in understanding some of those "secrets." Kraig's "Modern Magic" and "Modern Sex Magic" are good places to start. Lon Milo Duquette also has a book on the magick of Thelema although I can't recall its name just now.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zephyros View Post
Another type of secret occultists deal with is the type that deals with experience and initiation and those are the ones that are far more difficult to communicate. If someone has not gone through the process and training they simply don't have the tools to deal with the ideas as an initiate would. Even if one knows the rituals they don't give the whole picture.
I think this is the crux of it right here. "Many are called, few are chosen."
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zephyros View Post
Sex magick is a part of it, and Crowley often hints at certain acts that would just give the OTO and other such orders an even worse name than they already have.
Often you need to be 'ripe' enough to hear a secret. And by that time you will be ready to work it out for yourself anyway, and that's the real trick. Unfortunately it's very easy to misinterpret this as elitism. It ain't nothing of the sort!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lon Milo DuQuette
This 'oath of secrecy' is a somewhat paradoxical obligation. Rather than being an oath not to reveal the secret to the world, it is rather more a promise to perpetuate the secret, to assure that it is protected, preserved, and never profaned, diluted, corrupted or lost.

One does not learn a true magical secret like one learns a juicy piece of gossip. A true magical secret is a light bulb that goes off over your head when you finally "get" something. In other words, the IX° initiate of the O.T.O. is not obligated to conceal the "secret" but on the contrary, obligated to make sure as many worthy individuals as possible discover the secret by discerning it themselves.

Crowley took this obligation very seriously, and his writings on this particular subject can be very difficult to understand. They are full of strange, sometimes disturbing and confusing symbolic language that Crowley believed revealed everything there was to reveal to anyone ready to have everything revealed to them.

I must confess, this is not easy. But it is a magical labor well worth the effort, because the reward is nothing less than the Holy Grail itself.
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Very good quote, Aeon, as always.

Waite himself demonstrated this in his concealment in the PKT, almost a decade after the GD's lid was blown off. He continues to be reticent even about publicly available texts because of that virtue of having people find out for themselves.

It is also worth mentioning that like the PKT, the Book of Thoth seems to be aimed mainly at the general public. A very informed specific audience, to be sure, but mainly for the "unwashed masses" rather than for initiates alone. In his more specialized literature Crowley is far less reticent and deals with subjects many would consider unsavory with more freedom, knowing as he did that members would be in a better position to accept that some things are secret. And as Aeon demonstrated, "reticence" isn't really a good word to describe Crowley, blabbermouth that he was.
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Crowley's own 'Aha!' moment in, The Confessions of Aleister Crowley (chp.72).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aleister Crowley
I have found in practice that the secret of the O.T.O. cannot be used unworthily.

It is interesting in this connection to recall how it came into my possession. It had occurred to me to write a book, The Book of Lies, which is also falsely called Breaks, the wanderings or falsifications of the one thought of Frater Perdurabo which thought is itself untrue.

Each of its ninety-three chapters was to expound some profound magical dogma in an epigrammatic and sometimes humorous form. The Cabbalistic value of the number of each chapter was to determine its subject. I wrote one or more daily at lunch or dinner by the aid of the god Dionysus. One of these chapters bothered me. I could not write it. I invoked Dionysus with peculiar fervour, but still without success. I went off in desperation to "change my luck", by doing something entirely contrary to my inclinations. In the midst of my disgust, the spirit came upon me and I scribbled the chapter down by the light of a farthing dip. When I read it over, I was as discontented as before, but I stuck it into the book in a sort of anger at myself as a deliberate act of spite towards my readers.

Shortly after publication, the O.H.O. [Outer Head of the Order] came to me. (At that time I did not realize that there was anything in the O.T.O. beyond a convenient compendium of the more important truths of freemasonry.) He said that since I was acquainted with the supreme secret of the Order, I must be allowed the IX° and obligated in regard to it. I protested that I knew no such secret. He said, "But you have printed it in the plainest language." I said that I could not have done so because I did not know it. He went to the bookshelves and, taking out a copy of The Book of Lies, pointed to a passage in the despised chapter. It instantly flashed upon me. The entire symbolism, not only of freemasonry but of many other traditions, blazed upon my spiritual vision. From that moment the O.T.O. assumed its proper importance in my mind. I understood that I held in my hands the key to the future progress of humanity.
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[QUOTE=Aeon418;4515701]Crowley's own 'Aha!' moment in, The Confessions of Aleister Crowley (chp.72).[

Thank you for all the replies and suggestions, this is a really interesting community.

does this suggest that an 'aha' moment needs, or is much helped by, the framework provided by a secret society to enable it to be comprehended?

it reads as though Al would not have realised the import of his own writing without the awareness provided by the O.H.O?
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